Posted by: darcymullin | September 20, 2013

Professional Development – Inquiry Style


In an earlier post I discussed our school’s move toward inquiry and specifically where I thought my learning was going. This week we had our first official inquiry session. Initially, I was unsure of how we were going to structure it, but luckily I work with some pretty smart people who had already thought of what it could look like. I want to extend a huge thanks to Carol Barton and Anita Berekoff for facilitating the work on behalf of our school.images

Even though our school is pursuing a number of different inquiry questions, we are all working together. Our leaders (Anita and Carol) have laid out the structure of our six sessions and set a tight agenda for each meeting. We start each session reflecting on our learning through a quiet write. We were asked to think about our question, steps we needed to take, people who would help us along the way and some questions we had going in.

Choosing to start and end together in a group is such a powerful structure. It allows us a window into each others learning and we are all aware we of what each other is doing. We can make connections, offer suggestions and even be inspired by the work of others. Knowing that we are sharing our learning keeps us on task an focused on our questions on the weeks between sessions. It is also offers a network of support and collaboration that we will all need at one time or another through the process.

This week’s work was focused around refining our question. Almost all of us had questions that were too large. Inquiry is about making small changes in our practice that we hope will make a big impact in the classroom and school. Initially, I wanted to structure my question around 3 tiers of intervention for our students. Ultimately answer the question…what do we do when students struggle. However, I realized that question is too large and one perhaps that I will pursue over time.

This year I want to focus on classroom interventions. I want to formalize the process of accessing support at the school level. My question, ” If we systematize classroom interventions and formalize the process of coming to school based team, will it result in more effective supports for teachers and students” entails creating a process that ensures that students have multiple opportunities for correction in the classroom setting. Teachers work very hard at meeting the needs of their students, what I want is to give them a “tool box” of interventions for the classroom. In our school, we have many highly skilled and experienced teachers, so part of setting up the “toolbox” will involve asking and observing the many different things they do to help students when they struggle and compiling a list of promising practices.

Part of the inquiry process is making commitments for our next meeting. Our next session is at the end of October between now and then, we must connect with our critical friend on two occasions and collect some data related to our question. My plan is to share our journey as we go. Hopefully, not just my learning, but some of the exciting things that are happening here at school.

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